Deadend of Besiegers (1992)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-03-16
Life changing events can turn on simple, actually almost simple-minded explanations such as “I didn’t know it was loaded” or “she told me she was 18”, or “I got on the wrong boat”. In “Deadend of Besiegers” Yu Rong-Guang, when asked how a noble and sympathetic Japanese martial artist found himself part of a gang of cutthroats attacking a Chinese village said that he got on the wrong boat. He thought he was sailing to China with a group of peaceful traders only to find they were pirates.

Why his character Wuwechimatao was in such a predicament is shown in flashback, in a very compressed sequence that is so full of action that you don’t mind that it hinges on a number of one in a million coincidences happening in exactly the right order. First Wuwechimatao is publicly beaten and humiliated by a foreigner. Then, as he is about to kill himself a Chinese monk happens by and convinces him that while ritual suicide is a noble thing to do, the monk has a book that will help him defeat the white devil who just humiliated him—it is the manual for Dog Fist kung fu. Finally, there are two boats leaving at the same time for a small coastal town in China, one with pirates the other with merchants.

Once there it seems the pirates made bad mistake in attacking this particular town, since it is the home not only of Dog Fist kung fu but of a competing and equally deadly school, Tiger Fist. It is also protected by a walled garrison, manned by well armed Chinese soldiers. So instead of looting and raping, the pirates have to fight a pitched battle on the beach—they aren’t even sharp enough to hold a bunch of village children they have ambushed and plan to keep for ransom.

Wuwechimatao saves the kids and one kid in particular, a wonderful child actress who comes very close to stealing every scene she is in. Wuwechimatao has to fight both the marauding Japanese, who take him as a traitor and the defending Chinese who assume he is one of the attackers. To make things even more difficult, while he can use his sword on the Japanese, he has to ward off the Chinese without killing them or even hurting them too badly.

The child he saves then bonds with Wuwechimatao and saves him from the angry citizens who want to string him up as one of the attackers. On of his disguises is as a madman, which gives Yu Rong-Guang one of his many scenes to show his martial arts skills. He is terrific—lightning hands and feet, very agile and powerful, obviously well trained, if not in a specific fighting skill (which he may be) then in the ability to sell it on screen. In succeeding battles he dispatches scores of pirates, sometimes punching an opponent with one hand, slashing another with a sword in the other hand and kicking yet a third.

Cynthia Khan is Cui Gu the leader of the Dog Fist kung fu school and does everything admirably. The director used her very well, first by filling the screen with plenty of close-ups of her face—she is, of course, astoundingly beautiful. Even though encumbered by several layers of period costume she was credible as a kung fu master, sweeping enemies off their feet with well executed kicks. Yu Rong-Guang was the action director—he decided that Dog Fist style would include a lot of ground work, so there were lots of sweeping leg moves and skidding along the ground.

There are a couple of subplots. The main one is uniting the two competing kung fu dynasties through the marriage of the leaders of each school. This allows Cynthia to shed a tear and look longingly at the departing Japanese warrior as he sails back to his homeland, knowing that her place is in China married to the scion of the Eagle Fist kung fu school. Presumably Yu Rong-Guang finds the egregiously costumed and bewigged gwielo who humiliated him and gives him sound beating.

“Deadend of Besiegers” is an excellent movie of its type with charismatic stars, plenty of hand to hand combat, weapons work and even artillery fire. There is an evil traitor among the defenders whose efforts are offset by a few of the Chinese who know more about what is happening than they let on. Wuwechimatao comes within a second of being beheaded and is shut in a coffin to suffocate but, of course, survives. He is actually a very appealing character—all he wants to do is learn the Dog Fist style, like the old monk told him to do, and he is willing to submit himself to anyone who can teach him.

Reviewer Score: 7